Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Technology & Innovation Studies

September 16, 2019

Measuring Industrial Modernity (1900-2018)

A research group in a University of Tartu, Estonia, is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to join us in studying the evolution of industrial modernity. The project is based on the Deep Transitions framework (Schot & Kanger, 2018Kanger & Schot, 2018) that aims to conceptualize the 250-year developmental trajectory of industrial societies through the co-evolution of socio-technical systems. The key questions our team seeks to answer are as follows: 1) What are the foundational features of industrial modernity, characterizing almost every industrial society to date, that have shaped its evolution? 2) Do we see some significant ruptures along these dimensions in recent decades?

The candidate will be a part of the team tasked with measuring long-term trends in the historical evolution of industrial societies along multiple dimensions (ideas, institutions, and practices) and on multiple scales (national, global). The project seeks to combine data from existing databases with analysis of digitized text corpora. Therefore, we are looking for a candidate with 1) competence in data analysis skills applicable to the analysis of large historical text collections; 2) methodological creativity in finding ways to utilize text corpora for tracking long-term societal trends.

The research group is highly interdisciplinary, involving (among others) experts from sustainability transitions studies, digital humanities, history and environmental sociology. As such applicants from diverse backgrounds are welcome to apply.

The position is funded by the Estonian Science Council and is part of the project “Reshaping Estonian energy, mobility and telecommunications systems on the verge of the Second Deep Transition”.

The researcher is expected to engage in the following tasks, some of which involve close collaboration with other team members:

  • Operationalizing the features of industrial modernity in order to track them in historical data
  • Extracting text corpora from public sources, organizing and storing them
  • Cleaning and processing historical OCR texts and preparing them for analysis
  • Assisting in designing and formulating collaborative procedures and workflows to study the representations of industrial modernity in historical texts utilizing the interdisciplinary domain expertise in the group
  • Conducting data analysis and text mining on historical corpora through various techniques, interpreting and integrating the results
  • Representing the findings in thematic conferences and participating in the write-up of the results for journal submission.

See also the general job requirements for the University of Tartu (Research Fellow, pages 6 and Annex 8, page 20)

Required Research Experiences

  • RESEARCH FIELD: Sociology › Macrosociology,  Cultural studies, Economic history, Economic geography


Experience in at least two of the following areas:

  • Gathering and maintaining large digital corpora for text mining
  • Applying NLP on historical OCR texts
  • Keyword extraction, topic modeling, sentiment analysis
  • Automatic content extraction and text classification
  • Time series analysis of large text collections
  • Cultural analytic studies based on large text collection

In addition:

  • Readiness to learn new techniques as needed
  • Excellent oral and written proficiency in English
  • Independent, creative and critical thinking, capability to cope with uncertainty.

Desirable but not essential

  • Prior experience in studying long-term trends with quantitative tools
  • Disciplinary background in fields that have engaged in long-term and macro-level research (e.g. cultural evolution, digital humanities, historical macro-sociology, economic history, economic geography, computational history)
  • Disciplinary background in fields that have focused on the study of technology and society (e.g. history of science and technology, Science and Technology Studies, media and communication studies, innovation studies)
  • Working knowledge in sustainability transitions and long wave literature.


By offering a comprehensive and multi-dimensional assessment of the evolution of industrial modernity the results of the project will be of interest to multiple research communities (e.g. sustainability transitions studies, sustainability science, sociology, cultural evolution). Therefore, the successful applicant will have the possibility to engage in cutting-edge research on the long-term dynamics of industrial societies, enabling to build a substantive skill and publication portfolio boosting further career development. The project also foresees annual funding for participation in international conferences. The research team at the University of Tartu provides a vibrant and supportive work atmosphere.

Selection process

In order to be considered for the position, the candidate must submit to the UT Human Resources Office (email: personal [at] following documents (in English, pdf format)):

  1. a letter of application to the Rector,
  2. academic CV, including a list of publications (including both accepted and under review)
  3. a copy of a document (including its annexes) which shows the candidate to hold the required qualification (authorized translation into Estonian, English or Russian if the credential is not in one of these languages). A candidate can be required to submit the original or a certified copy of the document (including its annexes) showing the candidate to hold the required qualification. If the candidate has acquired the higher education in question abroad, he or she may be required to submit an assessment issued by the Academic Recognition Information Centre (the Estonian ENIC/NARIC) of his or her qualification in respect of the qualification requirements for the position;
  4. Contact information of at least two references
  5. a 2-3 page research statement on past research and future research interests, including the envisioned contribution to the project.

Candidates will be contacted after September 16 and Skype interviews will be conducted. Final selection will be made by October 10 and work is envisioned to start from Nov 1, 2019.

Additional comments

The successful applicant will be employed by the University of Tartu which has been ranked as the top university in New Europe (Times Higher Education New Europe Ranking 2018). The Institute of Social Studies is an interdisciplinary research and teaching unit comprising areas from sociology to information science and communication studies. For additional information about the university see